'Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts saw continued patronage of domestic market throughout period of turmoil in Sri Lanka'

Against the backdrop of strong tourism recovery and upward trend in tourism in the country, BW HOTELIER spoke with Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts

Just to the south of India is the small but beautiful island of Sri Lanka. With its own rich heritage and beautiful landscapes, the country has much to offer. In the recent past, the tumultuous political events hampered its tourism potential to some extent, however, Sri Lanka is bouncing back, and how. Despite the crisis that the country faced in the middle of 2022, till December last year, Sri Lanka saw over 1.23 lakh Indian visitors, more than double of the 56,268 Indian tourists that visited the island country in 2021. In fact, the robust tourism recovery of Sri Lanka can also be seen in the fact that in 2022, nearly 7.20 lakh tourists visited the country, a massive increase from the 1.94 lakh tourists in 2021. 

Against this backdrop of strong tourism recovery and upward trend in tourism in the country, BW HOTELIER spoke with Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, which is a member of John Keells Holdings PLC, one of the largest listed conglomerates in Sri Lanka. Excerpts from the interview with Mano Gunasekara, Vice President Sales of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, Kamal Munasinghe, Area Vice President Operations, Colombo Hotels and Ilias Vamvakas, Area Vice President Operations, Sri Lanka Resorts Hotels:

How did the economic crisis in Sri Lanka impact your business and hospitality industry there?

Hospitality business was affected adversely in relation to international arrivals and the average spend as well. The economic conditions in other parts of the world, the increase in fuel and related costs, limitations in air connectivity accentuated this situation. However, the industry and Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts saw continued patronage of the domestic market throughout this period.

What do you think 2023 holds for the hospitality industry in Sri Lanka?

The year 2023 looks promising, and the industry at large has projected ambitious growth plans for Sri Lanka. The month of January is already on an upward trajectory, keeping in line with the anticipated international arrivals. We are pleased to note that the Indian market is progressing well for Sri Lanka at the moment with FIT movements, with a number of MICE and Wedding queries reaching us. The effort undertaken by the public and private sector to promote Sri Lanka has to be noted. Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts has a number of source market activations planned to support the promotion of destination Sri Lanka, with greater focus on India.

What are your expansion plans?

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is currently driving one of its key strategic initiatives in expanding its Global Sales Network in its key source markets namely India, France, UK and Germany where specialised and well experienced tourism/ hospitality resources from these markets are established. In fact, from all of the source markets, India will have the largest team - a team of 6    who will work out from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts latest and upcoming project, Cinnamon Life Integrated Resort will be a true city icon and urban lifestyle resort. It will bring the vibrant spirit of Colombo to life by presenting a multitude of experiences for any traveller. The integrated lifestyle complex includes two residential towers, a mall and an office tower. Cinnamon Life Integrated Resort is set to open in 2024, and will be home to 800 guestrooms and suites, fifteen vibrant restaurants and bars with live entertainment in the evenings, wellness centres, a kids’ club, 80,000 sq.ft. of events and meetings venues, and three swimming pools.

Can you share some financial figures and statistics regarding Cinnamon’s performance?

Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is a part of the Leisure industry group of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate. The hotel group in FY22 witnessed an Occupancy Rate of 29%, a massive increase from 3% in FY21. In fact, during the financial year, the rate increased each quarter going from 6% in Q1 to 20% in Q2, 39% in Q3 and 52% in Q4. 

Moreover, the Average Room Rate (ARR) stood at US $70 in FY22, going up from US $64 in the previous year.


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